Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 399–421 | Cite as

The New Kingdom settlement of Amara West (Nubia, Sudan): mineralogical and chemical investigation of the ceramics

Original Paper


Forty-three pottery samples from the New Kingdom site at Amara West in Nubia (Sudan) were analysed by optical microscopy and scanning electron microscopy-energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry to identify pottery potentially produced at the site. Twenty-two samples from modern local alluvial soils, modern locally made pottery and archaeological material (mudbricks, daub, oven liners and kiln fragments), likely to have been made from locally sourced clays, were also studied. The analytically and microscopically defined pottery fabrics were cross-correlated with macroscopic fabrics defined on-site during fieldwork to demonstrate not only the potential and limitations of both approaches but also how the complementary datasets can provide new insights. The mineralogical and chemical analyses, of 65 samples, suggest that locally manufactured pottery included both Egyptian-style tableware and Nubian-style cooking pots. At the same time, the community at the site imported ceramics from a variety of different regions, including Egypt itself.


Amara West New Kingdom pottery Thin sections SEM-EDX Provenance Nubia Vienna system 



This study was undertaken under the auspices of a Leverhulme Trust sponsored project on Health and diet in ancient Nubia; the Amara West Research Project ( has also received generous support from the British Academy and Fondation Michela Schiff Giorgini. All fieldwork is undertaken in collaboration with the National Corporation for Antiquities and Museums (Sudan). We are grateful to Abdelrahman Ali (Director General), Hassan Hussein Idris (former Director General), Salah Mohamed Ahmed (Director of Fieldwork) and our site inspector, Shadia Abdu Rabo, for facilitating work and permitting export of samples. The material discussed here was recovered from excavations supervised by Neal Spencer, An Van Camp, Mary Shepperson, Mat Dalton, Charly Vallance, Shadia Abdu Rabo, René Kertesz, Stephanie Aulsebrook, Tom Lyons, Michaela Binder, Nicole Lorenz and Nick Soderberg.

The authors would also like to thank Dr Catherine Higgitt, Dr Andrew Middleton, Mr Nigel Meeks and Dr Roberta Tomber (CSR, The British Museum), Dr Mary Ownby (Desert Archaeology Inc.), Prof. Y. Goren (Tel Aviv University), three anonymous reviewers, and Dr John Meadows (Zentrum für Baltische und Skandinavische Archäologie, Leibniz-Labor für Altersbestimmung und Isotopenforschung, Christian-Albrechts-Universität, Germany) for their useful comments and discussion.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Conservation and Scientific ResearchThe British MuseumLondonUK
  2. 2.Département des Antiquités égyptiennesMusée du LouvreParisFrance
  3. 3.Department of Ancient Egypt and SudanThe British MuseumLondonUK

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